WATCH: Hybrid products could capture a significant chunk of the protein market, predicts The Better Meat Co

By Elaine Watson contact

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Better Meat Co, plant-based protein, Packaging equipment & materials, Processing and packaging Innovation, Processing equipment & plant design

From Perdue’s Chicken Plus nuggets combining chicken, plant proteins and veggies, to Tyson’s Raised & Rooted burgers combining regular and plant-based beef, a new wave of ‘hybrid’ or ‘blended’ products is hitting the meat case. But are these the meaty equivalent of ill-fated mid-calorie sodas Pepsi True and Coca-Cola Life, or an exciting new growth opportunity in the protein market?

The Better Meat Co​ – one of 15 companies pitching at Rabobank’s FoodBytes! competition​ in Chicago last week - makes plant-based proteins that “blend seamlessly into ground meat products​” at inclusion rates of 30-50%, and reckons hybrid products could capture a significant chunk of the protein market in the coming years.

The Sacramento-based start-up closed a $1.6m pre-seed round in early 2019 and will soon close its next round, which will “probably be closer to six or seven million dollars,” ​said co-founder and CEO Paul Shapiro, author of the best seller, ‘Clean Meat: How Growing Meat Without Animals Will Revolutionize Dinner and the World​​​.

While on the face of it, a plant-meat combo might seem like the worst of both worlds, alienating meat-enthusiasts and vegans/vegetarians alike, CPG companies and foodservice companies are increasingly open to blended products, claimed Shapiro. 

This might be for health reasons (they have less saturated fat and cholesterol and fewer calories); sustainability reasons (they have a lower environmental footprint, and many companies have targets to meet on this front); to tap into new trends (plant-based is hot right now); and culinary reasons (consumers often prefer hybrid products in taste tests); he said.

“First and foremost there’s a cost benefit - for certain products such as beef, we’re cheaper – but there’s also a taste, nutrition and sustainability benefit ​[as plant-based proteins have a lower environmental footprint].   

“For our products, it’s very difficult if not impossible to tell the difference ​[between the hybrid products and 100% meat products] in blind taste tests, and oftentimes people actually prefer the blended product because it has a better mouthfeel. They are also getting less saturated fat, less cholesterol, and fewer calories.”

A sustainable business model?

But why go for half measures when there are now 100% plant-based products such as the Impossible Burger and the Beyond Burger, which many consumers believe taste just as good as the real thing?

“What we have to bear in mind is that most of the meat sold today is coming from animals and for a long time will come from animals, and we can help the consumer that wants to enjoy less meat but isn’t going to become a vegetarian,” ​said Shapiro.

Room for the middleman?

While the fact that a company as big as Perdue has chosen to work with Shapiro et al on its first ‘hybrid’ products rather than going directly to plant-based protein suppliers suggests that The Better Meat Co has some value to add, does the startup have some IP or specific expertise that will ensure it won’t be cut out of the loop in future if the blended trend takes off?

 “Like most of the food industry we operate around trade secrets,but at the same time we are exploring patents on certain process that we’re utilizing right now,” ​said Shapiro, who said The Better Meat Co has done the R&D work to combine plant proteins, fibers, fats and flavors in tailored solutions for a variety of products so that meat companies of all sizes and capabilities can find drop-in solutions.

Perdue’s Chicken Plus nuggets, tenders and patties – which use a 50:50 blend of chicken and plant-material (the latter supplied from The Better Meat Co) – are now available in 7,100 stores across the country including in Walmart.


How are parents incorporating plant-based alternatives into their children’s diets? And what are the nutritional implications? Hear from Michele DeKinder-Smith​​​​ at Linkage Research & Consulting at the 2019 FoodNavigator-USA FOOD FOR KIDS summit​​​​ in Chicago, November 18-20.


Related news

Show more

Related products

show more

Deliver wholesome products with sustainable ingredients.

Deliver wholesome products with sustainable ingredients.

ADM advances regenerative agriculture | 24-Jun-2022 | Infographic

Learn how the plant-based movement continues to inspire an evolution in consumer eating habits, and how ADM’s NutriStem™ ingredients with their vertically...

Sustainable solutions from farm to finished product.

Sustainable solutions from farm to finished product.

ADM advances regenerative agriculture | 24-Jun-2022 | Insight Guide

Consumers view sustainability more holistically than ever and see it as a moral imperative for companies to take action to protect environmental and social...

Your roadmap to carbon neutral flour has arrived.

Your roadmap to carbon neutral flour has arrived.

ADM advances regenerative agriculture | 24-Jun-2022 | Product Presentation

ADM's net carbon neutral milling network and regenerative agriculture projects help lower your supply chain emissions on flour sourcing. Download...

Vanilla, the sustainable taste of home.

Vanilla, the sustainable taste of home.

ADM advances regenerative agriculture | 24-Jun-2022 | Infographic

Explore how ADM’s responsible global sourcing and formulation know-how is used to develop world-class tasting and sustainable vanilla solutions for deliciousness...

Related suppliers

Follow us


View more